A smart, funny, forthright librarian in book form.




A librarian delivers a charming epistolary volume that begs to be read with pencil in hand.

In her debut book, Spence celebrates some of modern literature’s darlings while scathingly reducing other works to pulp. Covering selections from across a vast range of subjects and genres, the author delivers flirty essays and cruel-to-be-kind rejection letters to books as she “weeds” her library’s collection. Unafraid to take shots at publishing’s most lucrative franchises, her letters to Nicholas Sparks and the Twilight series convey the exasperation of a woman who has seen these books checked out constantly while worthier books remain on the shelf. “You made me say ‘erotica’ to an old lady, Grey,” Spence admonishes E.L. James’ Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. “I’m going to hate you forever for that!” Valedictions to obscure nonfiction works—e.g., Better Homes and Gardens Dieting for One—signal shifting societal mores and remind us of the never-ending nature of a librarian’s job curating a collection. “Just looking at you makes me feel as if I’m squandering my life,” she writes to The Leisure Alternatives Catalog, 1979. "We can’t all be art-cinema buffs and sailing experts like you.” Readers will find plenty to agree with—the letter to the Frog and Toad books is delightful—and plenty to take issue with—only one work of Russian literature is included—as well as an amusingly disproportionate amount of time devoted to the work of Jeffrey Eugenides. We also get letters to nonbooks that every bookish person will appreciate: a love letter to the library in Beauty and the Beast, a note to an acquaintance’s too-perfect bookshelf. In the hearty second section, Spence provides a useful list of references, recommendations, and resources. Among the other notable works discussed include books by Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, and Judy Blume.

A smart, funny, forthright librarian in book form.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10649-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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